on Oct 08, 20

Juanita's gift: helping families through the fog of fertility treatment

Juanita Copeland is our first kind Kiwi to pledge her birthday to Fertility New Zealand — one of The Good Registry’s newest charity partners. She’s also the charity’s Board Chair and National President.

The Good Registry talked with Juanita about the Good work that Fertility New Zealand does to support New Zealanders dealing with infertility, and how good it feels to be able to give back with her birthday registry.

Juanita LOVES gifts and pledging her birthday to Fertility NZ felt a bit weird! But she says that asking friends and family for donations instead of gifts is a small and worthwhile sacrifice for a cause that’s so close to her heart.

She encourages others to give it a go: “Think past the short-lived rush of opening a gift, and think what that $20 or $30 or more could do for a charity that does work that’s important to you. I don’t know of a single charity that isn’t struggling a bit for funding right now and they could use that money way more than you need another scarf, candle, cookbook or pot plant!”


TGR: What got you involved with Fertility NZ?

JC: Once I had my daughter and came through the fog of years of fertility treatment, followed by the blur of the new baby phase; I realised just what an impact my fertility journey had on me as a person. I was looking to do some kind of volunteer work, and as I worked through the experiences that have shaped me and the organisational values that are important to me, it became vividly clear that supporting people dealing with infertility ticked all the boxes.

I started by co-facilitating the monthly support group in Christchurch. It completely blew my mind. Being in a room of women and men supporting each other through the perils of trying — and failing — to get pregnant was just so powerful. The way they share their experience and knowledge and celebrating all the highs and lows was so enriching. Seeing people make new friendships within the groups and supporting each other outside the regular catchups was so rewarding. It made me wish, so much that I had sought out a support group during the five years it took us to conceive our daughter.

From there I felt compelled to put some of my professional skills in media and communication to use for Fertility NZ and decided to join the Board. Now four years on I am in my second year as the Board Chair and National President. It’s really exciting to be a part of helping the organisation to grow and change and to bring the subject of infertility into the community at large.

TGR: What inspires you about Fertility NZ and the difference they are making?

JC: The power of people is so evident in every aspect of what FNZ does. From our incredible volunteers who run support groups and contribute to FNZs operations, to the community we serve. It is so humbling to be in a support group and see someone nervously attend their first meeting — only to leave feeling boosted, heard and understood.

We can’t change the outcome of fertility treatment but we seek to make it less scary, daunting and lonely. I see examples of people being lifted up by FNZ every day and it’s what motivates me to continue to be involved.

TGR: What excites you about the partnership between Fertility NZ and The Good Registry?

JC: This partnership feels like the meeting of minds. Our organisations both seek to spread good in the community and have a genuine desire to make people’s lives better. I also love the value The Good Registry places on supporting charities of all sizes.

TGR: What’s the reason you decided to pledge your own birthday to Fertility NZ?

JC: I felt that pledging my birthday to Fertility NZ was a simple way I could fundraise for the organisation that was easy and transparent for friends and family to do.

I have recently moved to Wellington, so most of my friends and family are based in Christchurch. We would usually catch up for a coffee or glass of wine on my birthday but that won’t be happening this year. However, this is the perfect way to still connect with each other in a meaningful way.

I have asked my friends to simply pledge what they would spend on our usual coffee and cake date.

TGR: Do you have a goal in mind and and/or is it about raising funds or a bit about raising awareness too?

JC: I don’t have a goal in mind — any contribution will be a bonus! It’s more about reminding people just how passionate I am about Fertility NZ. Also, it’s raising awareness around what FNZ does and a reminder of how the experience of infertility stays with those who go through it.

Many of my friends now didn’t know me when I went through years of IVF and just see the happy, smiling mother I am today. This has been a chance to tell them a bit more about my story and explain how life impacting my pathway to motherhood was. Just because we finally have our daughter, doesn’t mean I have forgotten the feelings of fear and grief and loneliness that were with me for years.

TGR: How has pledging your birthday to Fertility NZ made you feel?

JC: To be honest, a bit weird!! I’m pretty big on birthdays and love the chance to celebrate anyone on their special day. My family are the same and we love sending each other gifts and surprises, so this year will be a little different and it’s taken a bit of convincing to stop some people buying gifts. But seeing the donations come in and the lovely comments alongside them has been the best gift I could ask for — and it’s not even my birthday yet!

TGR: How do you feel about gift giving in general? And about choosing donations instead of gifts this year in that context?

JC: I LOVE gift giving!! Finding someone the perfect gift that fits their personality and lifestyle is such a thrill. As adults we don’t get many surprises or presents, so I love making someone’s day with the perfect gift.

But I had a change in focus recently when packing up our lives to move cities. We had so much stuff!! We donated a lot but we still had a huge shipping container full of things and it made me feel quite uneasy.

We have certainly streamlined our lives recently and while giving a small gift may make for a short, magical moment in time, investing that money in giving a donation will have a much bigger impact for so much longer.

TGR: What if anything will you miss about not receiving physical gifts (or will you still receive one or two special gifts)?

JC: Well …. I will be getting a couple of gifts. My daughter loves the Daddy daughter shopping trip to choose my gifts, so who am I to deny them that?!

TGR: How would you sum up the experience so far?

JC: It’s been really humbling. Seeing my friends understand more about what FNZ does and also thinking back to those dark days of treatment they supported me through has been quite something.

I did feel really nervous about asking and still feel a little awkward with giving the constant reminders to donate, but hopefully everyone knows I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t think it was really important.

TGR: What are some of the added benefits of not receiving physical gifts?

JC: The reduced packaging is a big one. I’ve become acutely aware of how much packaging isn’t recyclable. Also, as many of my friends would have posted me gifts, there’s the reduction in courier bags going to landfill.

More than the money, the lovely messages of support and encouragement for the work FNZ does and my role in it have been the best thing to come of it all so far.

TGR: What would you say to others thinking about pledging their birthday?

JC: Think past the short-lived rush of opening a gift, and think what that $20 or $30 or more could do for a charity that does work that’s important to you. I don’t know of a single charity that isn’t struggling a bit for funding right now and they could use that money way more than you need another scarf, candle, cookbook or pot plant!

  • If you’d like to give to Juanita’s birthday registry, you can do that here.
  • If you’d like to create your own birthday registry, you can do that here.
  • If you’d like to learn more about Fertility New Zealand, you can visit their website.


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